Regardless of where Michael Jackson is ultimately buried and how his funeral unfolds, one thing is for certain: The powers that be behind the singer’s elaborate This Is It London concert series want the show to go on … somehow.
Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, the Los Angeles-based concert promoter that put up the money for the now-canceled string of 50 shows that were to begin on July 13 at the O2 Arena in London, told Britain’s Sky News on Monday that he would like to see some kind of musical tribute to Jackson in the near future.
“This show was beyond anything, the technology, the size of the show,” Phillips said. “It was Michael Jackson. It was bigger than anything else could ever have been, it was beautiful and amazing, and he was amazing in it. [Concert director] Kenny [Ortega] and I have discussed this. At some point, the world needs to see this production. And I would imagine if we could do it, it would be done as a tribute, with the family, with the brothers performing and the sisters and other stars who loved Michael and were influenced by him. The world needs to see this production. It’s done. We have it in a vault, the intellectual property content. We have the sets, the costumes. It would have been … one of the most amazing arena shows ever.”
AEG reportedly has more than 100 hours of footage from the rehearsals for the show, including film of the final run-through Jackson completed just hours before his death. Phillips said he’d like the world to see what Jackson had planned, but for now, he’s discussing possibilities with the family and trying to work something out. A spokesperson for Phillips did not return MTV News’ requests for further comment from the AEG boss about the company’s plans to honor the singer.
Ortega also said he’d like to see a tribute to Jackson’s “mind, talent, vision and heart” emerge. “Maybe part of what we were planning to do in London and beyond — maybe we can share some of these ideas in a different capacity,” he told the Los Angeles Times just hours after Jackson’s death last week.
Though no plans have been formally discussed yet, Ortega — a longtime Jackson collaborator and the director of the “High School Musical” movies — said he could imagine doing an all-star “We Are the World”-type event, referring to the star-studded 1985 African famine relief benefit single that was co-written by Jackson.
“It wouldn’t take an enlightened thinker to come up with a way,” Ortega told the paper. “There must be a hundred ways we can celebrate this man’s legacy. Broadway. Movies. Vegas. I hope all his artist friends will come together and have a real ‘We Are the World’ where we can share stories and Michael’s legacy in some great celebration. I’m sure they would love nothing more than to be a part of it.”
Among the reportedly eye-popping set pieces concocted for the London concerts was a Vegas-style illusion created by magician Ed Alonzo for the rock-edged song “Dirty Diana,” which included a flaming bed, a pole-dancing aerialist and a trick in which Jackson disappeared and reappeared in the middle of the crowd.
Contrary to an MSNBC report earlier this week, the Times reported that Madonna’s spokesperson said the fellow 1980s superstar has not been contacted about taking part in any Jackson tribute.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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